Written by William Hekman
It is certainly no secret that crime is one of the biggest topics heading into 2022 in California. Crime has been on the rise and it seems as many have given up prosecuting those crimes and holding criminals accountable. When Prop 47 passed, Democrats praised the bill as a social justice milestone. Eight years later, Prop 47 is in the spotlight as Republicans and even some Democrats have tried to reverse the effects of it.
Yesterday, Assembly Democrats blocked Assembly Bill 1603. The bill would have reversed the felony theft threshold back to $400, what it was before Prop 47. Prop 47 increased the felony theft threshold to $950. Many would think that the bill would be introduced by a Republican member, but it wasn’t. It was introduced by a Democrat, Rudy Salas from Bakersfield. Salas introduced the bill after seeing a rise in smash-and-grab robberies. Salas said, “When I’m talking to law enforcement locally, when I’m talking to the business owners, when I’m talking to customers, they say ‘look, when the threshold was lower at $400, we didn’t see the problems that we see now,’”. Smash-and-grab robberies have become synonymous with Prop 47, and more and more people are recognizing the errors of Prop 47. Salas cited a study by UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies that showed that there was “two-to-one” support for reforming Prop 47.
The bill was stonewalled by Chair of the Public Safety Committee Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer. Jones-Sawyer said that a change would increase the prison population in the state, “We really have to be concerned about the number of people that law enforcement will go after to fill the prisons. That is not a solution” said Jones-Sawyer. This is the second time that a bill that would have overhauled Prop 47 has failed. Earlier this March, the same committee blocked a bill by Republican Assemblyman Kevin Kiley that would have repealed Prop 47.
Prop 47 has put Democrats in a massive bind heading into 2022. While some have recognized the problems with it, others are in denial. This division could also spell trouble for Governor Newsom, who was one of the biggest proponents of the bill when he was Lieutenant Governor despite then-Governor Jerry Brown being against it.
Photo Cred: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File